Latest Posts

    The Battle of the Ages: Old School vs. New School Hip Hop

    Old school vs. new school hip hop is a never-ending debate over which is better. The old school of hip-hop is characterized by its diversity, quality, and innovation. It includes performers like Public Enemy, KRS-One and his Boogie Down Productions, Eric B & Rakim, and A Tribe Called Quest.

    New school rap is more commercial and mainstream in nature. Its unique style appeals to a different, much broader audience.

    Old School Vs. New School Hip Hop

    The Battle of the Ages

    One of the youngest genres, hip hop, goes through many phases and evolutions, including the old school and new school. Each gives off a different vibe. The new school focuses on swag and boasting about money, while the old school is more about storytelling and socially conscious lyrics.

    The old-school rap era dates all the way back to the 1970s. In the 80s, artists like Run-D.M.C and LL Cool J paved the way for mainstream hip-hop. Their more commercial style and approach introduced rap to a much wider audience. Shortly after them, gangster rap hit the national scene with its grit and controversy. Gangsta rappers were not afraid to speak their minds and criticize the system. They were also more eloquent than most people give them credit for, often using metaphors and imagery to convey their point.

    New York City is a mecca for art, especially old and new hip-hop. Many rappers battled for the throne of New York. It led to some of the most memorable feuds in hip-hop history. Nas vs. Jay Z featured hip-hop titans at each other’s throats for the crown.

    While the new school of hip-hop embodies diversity, quality, and innovation, it also has its fair share of controversies. In the new school era, artists experiment with more complex beats and a variety of editing techniques. Younger artists discovered more intense, aggressive, and bass-heavy sounds than the old-school style. The new school also coined the heavy use of ad-libs and an increase in the speed of their rapping.

    In contrast, the old-school era had more traditional beats and rhyme schemes. Older artists rely more on their wit and wordplay and less on autotune and cadence.

    The Lyrics

    Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. often hold the title of the kings of old school. They spearheaded their respective coasts with their lyrical skills and storytelling abilities. Pac and Biggie could rap over drum beats and bass lines from classic soul, funk and even R&B records. They also sampled vocals from legendary artists like James Brown.

    Old school rappers also had more socially conscious lyrics and never hesitated to speak out about their problems. This helped them gain a larger following among the public, and more respect in the streets. On the other hand, new school rappers tend to focus on topics such as money, cars and women. Most of them have beef with each other, which often ends in violence off the track.

    Many younger people prefer artists like Drake and XXXTentacion, while older listeners claim that the old school rappers had more talent. Old heads usually talk about how rappers “back in the day” could tell a story using their lyrics, not just make catchy jingles. New school hip hop can be very catchy and fun to listen to, but some of its lyrics can be shallow and have little substance.

    Some of the newest rappers receive criticism for having no originality about their music. They just seem to be copying the style of other rappers, while adding nothing new.

    The Beats

    As the hip hop genre evolves, there is an ever growing generational divide between old school and new school. This is reflected in both the style of music and the lyrics. Many say that old school rappers care more about delivering powerful topics while new school artists are more interested in focusing on their money and material possessions.

    While these sounds are more commercially viable, some critics believe that they reduce the authenticity of the genre. This divide shines even more in the beats of the two styles. Old school beats are sampled from disco and funk music while new school beats are heavily electronic with hard-hitting 808’s.

    New hip hop has an almost tunnel visioned focus on trap beats. New rappers also all use varying amounts of and auto-tune, reverb, and other voice manipulation techniques. Early MCs relied on DJs to play breaks from classic soul, funk and R&B tracks, and didn’t have the technology that producers have today.

    The Rap Beefs

    One thing that the old school undoubtedly has takes the cake for, is their ability to “keep it rap.” Legendary MCs like KRS-One and LL Cool J, Nas and Jay Z, and Tupac and Biggie could go head to head while still keeping a level head. Older artists were much better at keeping their disagreements on the track and out of the cemetery. The tension between older rappers were always present, but the artists were must better at keeping things artistic.

    Many of the early rap pioneers also had battles with each other which people documented on film. These classic recordings provide a valuable historical perspective of hip hop culture. One of the most famous was the battle between the old school MCs Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee Starski.

    The battle happened at Harlem World in 1981. Busy Bee cemented his party rocking routines while Kool Moe Dee was more of a lyrical MC. Despite their differences, the pair put on a great, entertaining show for the crowd. The two divergent MCs managed to get along, as they squashed their differences later on.

    There are many classic live hip hop recordings on YouTube. These recordings give you a glimpse of hip hop’s early days and the development of the genre. Until the iconic Versuz battles blew up during the 2020 pandemic, new school rappers almost never went head to head purely for the sport.

    The Styles

    In hip hop culture, rappers’ styles illustrate the overall representation and cultural significance of rap music. Old school rappers like Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, and LL Cool J spearheaded new styles. They served as trend setters and cultural ambassadors, bringing rap to a wider audience. LL’s Kangol hats and matching sweat suits quickly became iconic fashion statements in rap.

    Old heads, as usual, like the styles of their era better. They often criticize the newer generation for their tight clothes, excessive face tattoos, painted nails, and long colorful hair. Rappers went from looking like thugs, to looking like peacocks and bags of Skittles.

    The Takeaway

    Many modern-day rap songs are about money, cars and girls which can be seen as a negative, destructive influence on the younger generation. Many old school songs lacked the technology to make deep, dynamic beats like the producers of today.

    Regardless of which era of hip hop you prefer, both styles have their merits. We can respect the legacy of the pioneers of the genre while supporting and encouraging the younger MC’s. This will help to ensure that the music continues to evolve and expand its reach. What’s your take on old school vs. new school hip hop? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

    Tap Into the Hype

    Please enter your comment!


    Latest Posts

    [democracy id="16"] [wp-shopify type="products" limit="5"]

    Don't Miss